SUN Behavioral Houston

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ECT - Electroconvulsive Therapy

Have you been experiencing depression symptoms that don’t seem to go away, no matter what you do? Do you feel like you have run out of options when it comes to your recovery? 

You are not alone in this experience. Between 2021 and 2022, 1,185,000 people in Texas over 18 years old reported a severe mental health disorder. Traditional medication and therapy treatment does not always work for everyone.. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can help. At SUN Behavioral Health Houston, we solve unmet needs. One way we do this is by providing additional support through ECT. 

What We Offer: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment performed by an anesthesiologist, psychiatrist, and a nurse in a safe environment. During this procedure, your doctor will place you under general anesthesia. Then, they will administer a small electric current that will safely create a generalized cerebral seizure. Depending on your treatment plan, this electric current is a small pulse between 0.5 to 2.0 milliseconds. You will not feel anything. 


Doctors will typically conduct this treatment to treat individuals with severe depression, but sometimes, doctors will utilize it for those with schizophrenia, catatonia, or bipolar disorder. ECT is best for those who have experienced resistance to other forms of depression treatment, such as medication. It also works well for individuals who have experienced suicidal ideation. According to the National Institute of Health,  38% of people treated for suicidal thoughts found relief after 1 week, and 81% found healing after treatment was complete.

How We Treat With Electroconvulsive Therapy

Typically, you will start your treatment for depression or another mental health condition with therapy, medications, or both. For most people, this line of treatment is beneficial. However, everyone is different, and sometimes, your disorder may not respond to treatment as expected. At SUN Behavioral Health Houston, our mental health services offer ECT as a safe and effective option to discuss with your doctor. ECT at SUN Behavioral Health Houston is best for people who have the following mental health conditions:
  • Psychosis
  • Catatonia
  • Medication-resistant depression
  • Multiple hospital visits for the same mental health disorder
  • Multiple suicide attempts
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How ECT Works

When someone has depression, different areas of the brain often have reduced activity. These areas include the frontal lobe, hippocampus, and amygdala. Due to this, people with depression may experience an impairment in their dopamine function. When they undergo ECT, the doctor may stimulate these brain areas with a short electric current to increase activity.  

ECT: Expectations

When someone undergoes ECT, they often receive the first initial series of procedures, which occur twice a week and last from 6-12 weeks. Depending on your discussions with your doctor, you may undergo ECT as needed following the initial treatment.

Before the Procedure

Before the procedure, your team will complete a medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will discuss the procedure and determine if it suits your needs and circumstances best. If you and your team decide to proceed with the procedure, you will be encouraged before your procedure to stop consuming 

  • Heavy meals 8 hours before 
  • Light meals 6 hours before
  • Liquids 2 hours before 

During the Procedure

This procedure will be performed in a hospital environment. Depending on your treatment plan, which is decided before the procedure, it can be inpatient or outpatient. Your doctor can discuss their recommendations with you following your procedure. 

A controlled current stimulates brain activity from either electrodes or a magnetic field during the procedure. You will experience no discomfort as you will be under anesthesia and receive muscle relaxants. Each procedure lasts several minutes. If you are undergoing an outpatient procedure, you mustn’t drive immediately after treatment.

Ongoing Treatment

Following your ECT treatment, you will continue to meet with your doctor for follow-ups and medications as necessary. Your doctor will also discuss what ongoing treatment will look like for you based on your plan, needs, and circumstances.  

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Is ECT Right for You?

Most doctors will want you to try medication and therapy before you try ECT. If you have tried traditional treatment options in the past and found they aren’t working for you, ECT is a safe and effective option you may want to try. If so, you can sit down with your doctor and create a plan.

What Are the Benefits of ECT?

Some of the potential benefits of ECT include:

It’s usually effective: ECT can be an effective tool for those looking for relief from depression or anxiety. In 2022, a nationwide survey found that ECT was effective 89% of the time when it came to symptoms of depression and 82% of the time for other cognitive effects

It produces fast results: Traditional treatment options often take time before you notice a change. It might be weeks or months before you begin to feel better. However, ECT tends to work faster. Most people who undergo ECT will experience a rapid recovery after their first or second series of procedures. For individuals who have experienced suicidal ideation or multiple suicide attempts, this can be lifesaving. 

It’s less of a time commitment: Medication and therapy require continuous commitment. ECT only requires the initial series of weekly treatments a few times until they are complete. Afterward, you will receive maintenance procedures as needed. These maintenance sessions are less frequent than the initial series, allowing you to continue your responsibilities outside recovery. You may also continue to take medications or attend therapy sessions to maintain your mental health between sessions. 

Improved quality of life: Besides all the benefits listed above, people who undergo ECT enjoy a higher quality of life. Because ECT can show quick responses and require less time commitment, you can focus on your work, school, and family life without worrying about your treatment and recovery. 

how ect works

Debunking 3 Myths About ECT

Throughout the years, ECT has been depicted negatively in the media, such as in the movies One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Snake Pit. These depictions have left many people with misconceptions about this procedure, and they might feel afraid if their doctor recommends it. However, many of these misconceptions are false. Below are 3 of the most common myths that people believe:

Myth #1: ECT Is Cruel

Media portrayals, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, have most influenced this myth. Movies often portray ECT as torturous and painful to the individual. They might describe it as someone in a straightjacket screaming and writhing. However, movies also entertain viewers. 

In reality, this portrayal of ECT is further from the truth. People who undergo this procedure are under anesthesia and muscle relaxants, which allow them to feel no pain and be completely unaware that it is happening. 

Also, many people might believe they will get injured physically from the generalized seizure. However, those who undergo this procedure are stabilized and lying down, ensuring their safety. Most people do not move around enough to cause physical harm to themselves. 

Myth #2: ECT Wipes Away Memories

Some people have reported that ECT has improved their memory and learning capabilities. While there are some reports of temporary memory loss, people often regain those memories after a few weeks. Long-term memory loss is not a common side effect of this procedure. 

Myth #3: ECT Is Only for Severe Mental Health Disorders

ECT can be beneficial for a wide range of mental health disorders. Most commonly, it treats depression that has become resistant to medication and traditional therapy. Depression impacts a person’s quality of life, and traditional treatment might not work, or it might take a long time before it starts to work. ECT provides fast results that allow them to return to living their desired life.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) at SUN Houston

If you have undergone therapy and medications and feel like you have run out of options for healing and recovery, rest assured – there are still options available to you. ECT is one such option at SUN Behavioral Health Houston. If you might benefit from ECT, talk to your doctor or contact us today to learn more. 

FAQs About Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

What are the risks of ECT?

ECT is a safe option for many people looking for another option for their recovery. Your team will work with you to ensure your safety throughout the process.

Will I be given anesthesia before ECT?

Yes. You will be given anesthesia and muscle relaxants during your ECT procedure.

What are the side effects of electroconvulsive therapy?

When you meet with your doctor during the evaluation, they will discuss potential side effects. Side effects may vary from person to person, and they can best inform you of ones you may or may not experience. If you experience side effects following ECT, know they are not permanent. Discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns before, during, or after your treatment.

Start Your Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) at SUN Behavioral Health Houston

Located in Houston, TX, SUN Behavioral Health Houston solves unmet needs. A mental health crisis can occur at any time, which is why we offer a 24/7 crisis center that allows you to receive help whenever it occurs. Call us today at 713-796-2273 if you have any questions or concerns. 

713-796-2273

SUN Behavioral Houston

7601 Fannin Street
Houston, TX, 77054

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